Three Ways to Tactfully Disagree With Your Boss

You know how important it is to pick your battles, right?

Speaking your mind to your boss may feel the same way but if you’re tactful and professional about it, it shouldn’t be too daunting. In fact, Alison Green writes in a U.S. News & World Report piece that speaking your mind can make you a more valuable employee.

The alternative is also true — if you don’t do the dance carefully, the conversation can make you seem like a less valuable employee. Green suggests three ways to be smart about agreeing to disagree.

1. Recognize that you might each have different information. Maybe your boss doesn’t have all the facts. Or maybe you don’t. She writes, “For instance, if you’re frustrated that your manager hasn’t approved your request to bring in a temp to help process a backlog of database entries, it’s possible that your manager doesn’t realize that the urgency you feel is because the backlog will grow even larger when the results of next month’s customer mailing start coming in and your assistant goes on a long-planned vacation.”

2. Ask for a limited-time experiment. Let’s say the first step doesn’t exactly resolve the disagreement and you’re feeling really bold about your point of view. You may want to try saying something like, “I really feel strongly about this. Would you be willing to allow me to try it my way and we can see how it goes?”

Keep in mind it’s not the best approach to say this every single time you disagree. Push back only when necessary.

3. Pay attention to your tone. It’s not so much what you say but how you say it and this certainly rings true when speaking with your supervisor. After all, you want to sound collaborative not combative.

In the piece she points out, “You want your tone to be one of collaborative problem-solving, not one of frustration, venting or hostility. And you’ll get the best results if you frame the conversation in a way that demonstrates that you understand that in the end your boss is the one who will need to make the final call.”